Ministry advises against importing cassava

Ministry advises against importing cassava

Cassava. (ANTARA/Arief Priyono)

We will also assess the industrial need for this commodity."
Bogor, West Java (ANTARA News) - Indonesia does not need to import cassava because national production of the crop is still enough to meet domestic demand, according to an Agriculture Ministry official.

"Indonesia can also improve its cassava production," said Maman Suherman, Director for Nuts And Tuber Development Affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture, at a seminar on efforts to overcome trade deficit through development of starch-based auxiliary materials in the country, here on Wednesday.

He noted that the annual production of cassava in Indonesia has reached 24.6 million tons, while domestic demand for the food commodity is 24.0 million tons.

However, Indonesia imported more than three million tons of cassava in 2012, Maman said, adding that the trend seemed to be on the rise.

Maman pointed out that farmers continued to face many problems during the process of developing cassava as starch-based raw and auxiliary materials for use in various industries.

Some of the challenges facing them are lack of innovative technology, competitive pricing, and land space for cassava cultivation.

"For example, a district where cassava can be cultivated has no processing industry. Therefore, production costs there shoot up on account of transportation expenses," Maman explained.

He said his office has identified areas suitable for the development of starch-based raw and auxiliary materials across the country. Maman expressed hope that the development of cassava at home would reduce the country`s heavy dependence on imported materials and, as a result, narrow the trade deficit.

"We will also assess the industrial need for this commodity," he added.

Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (Gapmmi) chairman Adhi Lukman told the seminar that his association was ready to use domestically produced starch-based raw and auxiliary materials.

"However, we will import the commodity if domestic producers fail to meet our demand," Adhi said.

He pointed out that cassava producers must focus on the quality of their production. The desired quality in cassava, Adhi noted, is low water but high starch content.

Adhi also called for improved logistical support for cassava or other starch-based commodities.

"It should not happen that production is abundant during a certain month but low in other months," the Gapmmi chairman added.